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Identify Learning Disabilities with Tests

Learning Disabilities Tests Diagnose Learning Problems


Updated June 25, 2014

African American student studying at desk in classroom
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Learning disability testing is a way for your child's school to determine what your child's learning problems are and how severe they are. Tests are an important part of finding out if your child has a learning disability and if he qualifies for special education programs.

Parents and teachers can make a formal request for testing. Before students are evaluated, schools arrange a formal referral meeting where educators, and other professionals discuss the child's history and performance in school. Parents are important members of this team. The team, sometimes called the IEP team, determines if learning disability tests are needed.

Before testing, schools will study the child's learning problems and any other concerns that may be affecting his learning. Schools will develop an intervention plan to address concerns. This period of intervention, called response to intervention, is required by the IDEA. Examples of the kinds of problems that would be addressed before testing include poor attendance, physical problems such as hearing or vision difficulty, frequent moves to different schools, and inadequate learning experiences.

Assessments are usually conducted by school personnel. Evaluation teams may include school psychologists, teachers, educational diagnosticians, or occupational, physical, or speech therapists or others as needed.

Several types of assessments and procedures are used in testing for LDs:

  • Intelligence Tests: Also called IQ tests, these instruments measure aptitude. IQ tests include activities designed to provide a complete picture of how students learn. Typical tests include language-based and visual reasoning.
  • Developmental and Social History: Usually completed by parents or guardians, these narrative questionnaires provide important facts about the student's development.
  • Records Review: Research on the student's background can help examiners identify other factors possibly contributing to the student's learning problems.
  • Behavioral Observations:May identify factors in the classroom affecting the student's learning.
  • Achievement Testing:Determines the child's current skill levels in academic skills.
  • Adaptive Behavior:Assesses a student's ability to perform tasks necessary to maintain self care, interact in socially appropriate ways, and to safely work in and around his school and home.

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